Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
At this page you can find the part of the story I haven't told in our regular post. Here ... The Story Goes On. Have fun !
Green Willow (te story goes on):
That night he lay before the fire—still, but with wide eyes, for no sleep came to him though he was weary. He was sick for love of the Green Willow. Yet by the rules of his service he was bound in honour to think of no such thing. Moreover, he had the quest of the Lord of Noto that lay heavy on his heart, and he longed to keep truth and loyalty.
At the first peep of day he rose up. He looked upon the kind old man who had been his host, and left a purse of gold at his side as he slept. The maiden and her mother lay behind the screen.
Tomodata saddled and bridled his horse, and mounting, rode slowly away through the mist of the early morning. The storm was quite over and it was as still as Paradise. The green grass and the leaves shone with the wet. The sky was clear, and the path very bright with autumn flowers; but Tomodata was sad.
When the sunlight streamed across his saddlebow, “Ah, Green Willow, Green Willow,” he sighed; and at noontide it was “Green Willow, Green Willow”; and “Green Willow, Green Willow,” when the twilight fell. That night he lay in a deserted shrine, and the place was so holy that in spite of all he slept from midnight till the dawn. Then he rose, having it in his mind to wash himself in a cold stream that flowed near by, so as to go refreshed upon his journey; but he was stopped upon the shrine’s threshold. There lay the Green Willow, prone upon the ground. A slender thing she lay, face downwards, with her black hair flung about her. She lifted a hand and held Tomodata by the sleeve. “My lord, my lord,” she said, and fell to sobbing piteously.
He took her in his arms without a word, and soon he set her on his horse before him, and together they rode the livelong day. It was little they recked of the road they went, for all the while they looked into each other’s eyes. The heat and the cold were nothing to them. They felt not the sun nor the rain; of truth or falsehood they thought nothing at all; nor of filial piety, nor of the Lord of Noto’s quest, nor of honour nor plighted word. They knew but the one thing. Alas, for the ways of love!
At last they came to an unknown city, where they stayed. Tomodata carried gold and jewels in his girdle, so they found a house built of white wood, spread with sweet white mats. In every dim room there could be heard the sound of the garden waterfall, whilst the swallow flitted across and across the paper lattice. Here they dwelt, knowing but the one thing. Here they dwelt three years of happy days, and for Tomodata and the Green Willow the years were like garlands of sweet flowers.
In the autumn of the third year it chanced that the two of them went forth into the garden at dusk, for they had a wish to see the round moon rise; and as they watched, the Green Willow began to shake and shiver.
“My dear,” said Tomodata, “you shake and shiver; and it is no wonder, the night wind is chill. Come in.” And he put his arm around her.
At this she gave a long and pitiful cry, very loud and full of agony, and when she had uttered the cry she failed, and dropped her head upon her love’s breast.
“Tomodata,” she whispered, “say a prayer for me; I die.”
“Oh, say not so, my sweet, my sweet! You are but weary; you are faint.”
He carried her to the stream’s side, where the iris grew like swords, and the lotus-leaves like shields, and laved her forehead with water. He said: “What is it, my dear? Look up and live.”
“The tree,” she moaned, “the tree … they have cut down my tree. Remember the Green Willow.”
With that she slipped, as it seemed, from his arms to his feet; and he, casting himself upon the ground, found only silken garments, bright coloured, warm and sweet, and straw sandals, scarlet-thonged.
In after years, when Tomodata was a holy man, he travelled from shrine to shrine, painfully upon his feet, and acquired much merit.
Once, at nightfall, he found himself upon a lonely moor. On his right hand he beheld a little hill, and on it the sad ruins of a poor thatched cottage. The door swung to and fro with broken latch and creaking hinge. Before it stood three old stumps of willow trees that had long since been cut down. Tomodata stood for a long time still and silent. Then he sang gently to himself:
“Long-haired maiden, do you know That with the red dawn I must go? Do you wish me far away? Cruel long-haired maiden, say— Long-haired maiden, if you know That with the red dawn I must go, Why, oh why, do you blush so?”
“Ah, foolish song! The gods forgive me…. I should have recited the Holy Sutra for the Dead,” said Tomodata.
finally I saw
the willow at the crystal stream
sung by Saigyo
The Flute (the story goes on):
One evening he was making ready to go forth to a great supper of his friends, and as he searched in his chest for certain brave silken hakama which he intended to wear as an honour to the feast, he came upon the little flute, which had lain hidden all this time in the sleeve of his travelling dress. He drew it forth from its red and white handkerchief, and as he did so, felt strangely cold with an icy chill that crept about his heart. He hung over the live charcoal of the hibachi as one in a dream. He put the flute to his lips, when there came from it a long-drawn wail.
He dropped it hastily upon the mats and clapped his hands for his servant, and told him he would not go forth that night. He was not well, he would be alone. After a long time he reached out his hand for the flute. Again that long, melancholy cry. He shook from head to foot, but he blew into the flute. “Come back to Yedo … come back to Yedo…. Father! Father!” The quavering childish voice rose to a shriek and then broke.
A horrible foreboding now took possession of the man, and he was as one beside himself. He flung himself from the house and from the city, and journeyed day and night, denying himself sleep and food. So pale was he and wild that the people deemed him a madman and fled from him, or pitied him as the afflicted of the gods. At last he came to his journey’s end, travel-stained from head to heel, with bleeding feet and half-dead of weariness.
His wife met him in the gate.
He said: “Where is the child?”
“The child…?” she answered.
“Ay, the child—my child … where is she?” he cried in an agony.
The woman laughed: “Nay, my lord, how should I know? She is within at her books, or she is in the garden, or she is asleep, or mayhap she has gone forth with her playmates, or …”
He said: “Enough; no more of this. Come, where is my child?”
Then she was afraid. And, “In the Bamboo Grove,” she said, looking at him with wide eyes.
There the man ran, and sought O’Yoné among the green stems of the bamboos. But he did not find her. He called, “Yoné! Yoné!” and again, “Yoné! Yoné!” But he had no answer; only the wind sighed in the dry bamboo leaves. Then he felt in his sleeve and brought forth the little flute, and very tenderly put it to his lips. There was a faint sighing sound. Then a voice spoke, thin and pitiful:
“Father, dear father, my wicked stepmother killed me. Three moons since she killed me. She buried me in the clearing of the Bamboo Grove. You may find my bones. As for me, you will never see me any more—you will never see me more….”
in the bamboo grove
her heart screams for her dad
sound of Shakuhachi
With his own two-handed sword the man did justice, and slew his wicked wife, avenging the death of his innocent child. Then he dressed himself in coarse white raiment, with a great rice-straw hat that shadowed his face. And he took a staff and a straw rain-coat and bound sandals on his feet, and thus he set forth upon a pilgrimage to the holy places of Japan.
And he carried the little flute with him, in a fold of his garment, upon his breast.
The Peony Lantern (the story goes on):
“The same, the very same shall be the manner of our meeting,” he said. He found the garden wild and overgrown. Moss covered the three stone steps. The plum tree that grew there fluttered its green leaves disconsolate. The house was still, its shutters were all closed, it was forlorn and deserted.
The samurai grew cold as he stood and wondered. A soaking rain fell.
There came an old man into the garden. He said to Hagiwara:
“Sir, what do you do here?”
“The white flower has fallen from the plum tree,” said the samurai. “Where is the Lady of the Morning Dew?”
“She is dead,” answered the old man; “dead these five or six moons, of a strange and sudden sickness. She lies in the graveyard on the hill, and O’Yoné, her handmaid, lies by her side. She could not suffer her mistress to wander alone through the long night of Yomi. For their sweet spirits’ sake I would still tend this garden, but I am old and it is little that I can do. Oh, sir, they are dead indeed. The grass grows on their graves.”
on morning dew's grave
Hagiwara went to his own home. He took a slip of pure white wood and he wrote upon it, in large fair characters, the dear name of his lady. This he set up, and burned before it incense and sweet odors, and made every offering that was meet, and did due observance, and all for the welfare of her departed spirit.
welcoming the spirits
with a Bon Odori dance -
happy Buddhist monks
celebrating their ancestors
chanting their mantras
About the hour of the Ox, Hagiwara heard the sound of footsteps in the lane that lay beyond his garden hedge. Nearer and nearer they came.
“Women’s geta,” said the samurai. He knew them by the hollow echoing noise. Looking over his rose hedge, he saw two slender women come out of the dimness hand in hand. One of them carried a lantern with a bunch of peony flowers tied to the handle. It was such a lantern as is used at the time of the Bon in the service of the dead. It swung as the two women walked, casting an uncertain light. As they came abreast of the samurai upon the other side of the hedge, they turned their faces to him. He knew them at once, and gave one great cry.
|Paper Lanterns (image found on Pinterest)
“Hagiwara Sama,” she cried, “by all that is most wonderful! Why, lord, we were told that you were dead. We have daily recited the Nembutsu for your soul these many moons!”
“Come in, come in, O’Yoné,” he said; “and is it indeed your mistress that you hold by the hand? Can it be my lady?… Oh, my love!”
O’Yoné answered, “Who else should it be?” and the two came in at the garden gate.
But the Lady of the Morning Dew held up her sleeve to hide her face.
“How was it I lost you?” said the samurai; “how was it I lost you, O’Yoné?”
“Lord,” she said, “we have moved to a little house, a very little house, in the quarter of the city which is called the Green Hill. We were suffered to take nothing with us there, and we are grown very poor. With grief and want my mistress is become pale.”
Then Hagiwara took his lady’s sleeve to draw it gently from her face.
“Lord,” she sobbed, “you will not love me, I am not fair.”
But when he looked upon her his love flamed up within him like a consuming fire, and shook him from head to foot. He said never a word.
She drooped. “Lord,” she murmured, “shall I go or stay?”
And he said, “Stay.”
A little before daybreak the samurai fell into a deep sleep, and awoke to find himself alone in the clear light of the morning. He lost not an instant, but rose and went forth, and immediately made his way through Yedo to the quarter of the city which is called the Green Hill. Here he inquired for the house of the Lady of the Morning Dew, but no one could direct him. High and low he searched fruitlessly. It seemed to him that for the second time he had lost his dear lady, and he turned homewards in bitter despair. His way led him through the grounds of a certain temple, and as he went he marked two graves that were side by side. One was little and obscure, but the other was marked by a fair monument, like the tomb of some great one. Before the monument there hung a lantern with a bunch of peony flowers tied to its handle. It was such a lantern as is used at the time of Bon in the service of the dead.
Long, long did the samurai stand as one in a dream. Then he smiled a little and said:
“‘We have moved to a little house … a very little house … upon the Green Hill … we were suffered to take nothing with us there and we are grown very poor … with grief and want my mistress is become pale….’ A little house, a dark house, yet you will make room for me, oh, my beloved, pale one of my desires. We have loved for the space of ten existences, leave me not now … my dear.” Then he went home.
His faithful servant met him and cried:
“Now what ails you, master?”
He said, “Why, nothing at all…. I was never merrier.”
But the servant departed weeping, and saying, “The mark of death is on his face … and I, whither shall I go that bore him as a child in these arms?”
Every night, for seven nights, the maidens with the peony lantern came to Hagiwara’s dwelling. Fair weather or foul was the same to them. They came at the hour of the Ox. There was mystic wooing. By the strong bond of illusion the living and the dead were bound together.
On the seventh night the servant of the samurai, wakeful with fear and sorrow, made bold to peer into his lord’s room through a crack in the wooden shutters. His hair stood on end and his blood ran cold to see Hagiwara in the arms of a fearful thing, smiling up at the horror that was its face, stroking its dank green robe with languid fingers. With daylight the servant made his way to a holy man of his acquaintance. When he had told his tale he asked, “Is there any hope for Hagiwara Sama?”
“Alack,” said the holy man, “who can withstand the power of Karma? Nevertheless, there is a little hope.” So he told the servant what he must do. Before nightfall, this one had set a sacred text above every door and window-place of his master’s house, and he had rolled in the silk of his master’s girdle a golden emblem of the Tathagata. When these things were done, Hagiwara being drawn two ways became himself as weak as water. And his servant took him in his arms, laid him upon his bed and covered him lightly, and saw him fall into a deep sleep.
At the hour of the Ox there was heard the sound of footsteps in the lane, without the garden hedge. Nearer and nearer they came. They grew slow and stopped.
“What means this, O’Yoné, O’Yoné?” said a piteous voice. “The house is asleep, and I do not see my lord.”
“Come home, sweet lady, Hagiwara’s heart is changed.”
“That I will not, O’Yoné, O’Yoné … you must find a way to bring me to my lord.”
“Lady, we cannot enter here. See the Holy Writing over every door and window-place … we may not enter here.”
There was a sound of bitter weeping and a long wail.
“Lord, I have loved thee through the space of ten existences.” Then the footsteps retreated and their echo died away.
The next night it was quite the same. Hagiwara slept in his weakness; his servant watched; the wraiths came and departed in sobbing despair.
The third day, when Hagiwara went to the bath, a thief stole the emblem, the golden emblem of the Tathagata, from his girdle. Hagiwara did not mark it. But that night he lay awake. It was his servant that slept, worn out with watching. Presently a great rain fell and Hagiwara, waking, heard the sound of it upon the roof. The heavens were opened and for hours the rain fell. And it tore the holy text from over the round window in Hagiwara’s chamber.
hour of the Ox
he finally gives his last breath
blew out the peony lantern
At the hour of the Ox there was heard the sound of footsteps in the lane without the garden hedge. Nearer and nearer they came. They grew slow and stopped.
“This is the last time, O’Yoné, O’Yoné, therefore bring me to my lord. Think of the love of ten existences. Great is the power of Karma. There must be a way….”
“Come, my beloved,” called Hagiwara with a great voice.
“Open, lord … open and I come.”
But Hagiwara could not move from his couch.
“Come, my beloved,” he called for the second time.
“I cannot come, though the separation wounds me like a sharp sword. Thus we suffer for the sins of a former life.” So the lady spoke and moaned like the lost soul that she was. But O’Yoné took her hand.
“See the round window,” she said.
Hand in hand the two rose lightly from the earth. Like vapour they passed through the unguarded window. The samurai called, “Come to me, beloved,” for the third time.
He was answered, “Lord, I come.”
In the grey morning Hagiwara’s servant found his master cold and dead. At his feet stood the peony lantern burning with a weird yellow flame. The servant shivered, took up the lantern and blew out the light; for “I cannot bear it,” he said.
At the day’s dawning came the handmaidens of the Sea King’s daughter, with their jewelled vessels, to draw water from the well. And as they stooped to dip their vessels, Prince Fire Fade leaned and watched them from the branches of the cassia tree. And the glory of his august countenance made a brightness upon the waters of the well. So all the maidens looked up and beheld his comeliness, and were amazed. But he spoke them fairly, and desired of them a little water from their vessels. So the maidens drew him water in a jewelled cup (howbeit the jewels were clouded, because of the coldness of the well water), and they presented it to him with all reverence. Then, not drinking the water, Prince Fire Fade took the royal jewel from his neck, and holding it between his two lips he dropped it into the cup, and the cup he gave again to the maidens.
Now they saw the great jewel shining in the cup, but they could not move it, for it clung fast to the gold. So the maidens departed, skimming the water like the white birds of the offing. And they came to the Sea King’s daughter, bearing the cup and the jewel in it.
And the Princess, looking at the jewel, asked them, “Is there, perchance, a stranger at the gate?”
And one of the maidens answered, “There is some one sitting in the branches of the cassia tree which is by our well.”
And another said, “It is a very beautiful young man.”
And another said, “He is even more glorious than our king. And he asked water of us, so we respectfully gave him water in this cup. And he drank none of it, but dropped a jewel into it from his lips. So we have brought them unto Thine Augustness, both the cup and the jewel.”
|The Sea King and the Magic Jewels (image found on Pinterest)
Then the Princess herself took a vessel and went to draw water at the well. And her long sleeves, and certain of the folds of her august garments, floated behind her, and her head was bound with a garland of sea flowers. And coming to the well she looked up through the branches of the cassia tree. And her eyes met the eyes of Prince Fire Fade.
And presently she fetched her father, the Sea King, saying, “Father, there is a beautiful person at our gate.” So the Sea King came out and welcomed Prince Fire Fade, and said, “This is the August Child of the Heaven’s Sun Height.” And leading him into his palace he caused the floor to be spread with eight layers of rugs of asses’ skins, and eight layers of rugs of silk, and set the Prince upon them.
And that night he made a great banquet, and celebrated the betrothal of Prince Fire Fade to his daughter, the fair Jewel Princess. And for very many days there was held high revel and rejoicing in the Sea King’s palace.
But one night, as they took their ease upon the silken floor, and all the fishes of the sea brought rich dishes, and sweetmeats in vessels of gold and coral and jade to set before them, the fair Jewel Princess herself sat at Prince Fire Fade’s right hand to pour the wine into his cup. And the silver scales upon the palace walls glittered in the moonlight. But Prince Fire Fade looked out across the Sea Path and thought of what had gone before, and so heaved a deep sigh.
Then the Sea King was troubled, and asked him, saying, “Wherefore dost thou sigh?” But Prince Fire Fade answered nothing.
And the fair Jewel Princess, his betrothed wife, came closer, and touched him on the breast, and said softly, “Oh, Thine Augustness, my sweet spouse, art thou not happy in our water palace, where the shadows fall green, that thou lookest so longingly across the Sea Path? Or do our maidens not please thee, who move silently, like the birds of the offing? Oh, my lord, despise me not, but tell me what is in thine heart.”
|The Sea King and the Magic Jewels (image found on Pinterest)
Then Prince Fire Fade answered, “My lovely lady, Thine Augustness, let nothing be hidden from thee, because of our love.” And he told them all the story of the fish-hook, and of his elder brother’s wrath.
“And now,” he said, “will the Jewel Princess give me counsel?”
Then the Jewel Princess smiled, and rose up lightly, and her hair was so long that it hung to the edge and hem of her silken red robe. And she passed to where the palace steps led down into the water. And standing upon the last step she called to the fishes of the sea, and summoned them, great and small, from far and near. So the fishes of the sea, both great and small, swam about her feet, and the water was silver with their scales. And the King’s daughter cried, “O fishes of the sea, find and bring me the august fish-hook of Prince Fire Flash.”
And the fishes answered, “Lady, the Tai is in misery, for something sticks in his throat so that he cannot eat. Perchance this may be the august fish-hook of his Augustness, Prince Fire Flash.”
Then the Princess stooped down and lifted the Tai from the water, and with her white hand she took the lost fish-hook from his throat. And after she had washed and dabbled it for a little, she took it in to Prince Fire Fade. And he rejoiced and said, “This is indeed my brother’s fish-hook. I go to restore it instantly, and we shall be reconciled.” For he loved his brother.
But the fair Jewel Princess stood silent and sorrowing, for she thought, “Now will he depart and leave me lonely.”
And Prince Fire Fade hastened to the water’s edge, and there bestrode a valiant crocodile, who should bring him to his journey’s end. And ere he went, the Sea King spoke: “Fair youth, now listen to my counsel. If thy brother sow rice upon the uplands, do thou sow thy rice low, in the water meads. But if thy brother sow his rice in the water meads, then do thou, Thine Augustness, sow thy rice upon the uplands. And I who rule the rains and the floods will continually prosper the labours of Thine Augustness. Moreover, here are two magic jewels. If thy brother should be moved by envy to attack thee, then put forth the Tide Flowing Jewel and the waters shall arise to drown him. But if thou shouldst have compassion upon him, then put forth the Tide Ebbing Jewel, and all the waters shall subside, and his life be spared.”
And his Augustness Prince Fire Fade gave thanks with obeisance. And he hid the fish-hook in his long sleeve, and hung the two great jewels about his neck. Then the fair Jewel Princess came near and bade him farewell, with many tears. And the Sea King charged the crocodile, saying, “While crossing the middle of the sea, do not alarm him.”
So Prince Fire Fade sat upon the crocodile’s head; and in one day he came to his own place and sprang lightly to shore. And unsheathing his dagger, he hung it upon the crocodile’s neck for a token.
|Sea King (image found on Pinterest)
Hereupon, Prince Fire Fade found his brother, and gave him back his own fish-hook that had been lost. Nevertheless, because of the two great jewels, which he wore in the folds of his raiment, he had everlasting dominion over his brother, and flourished in all his doings.
And, after some time, there came to Prince Fire Fade the daughter of the Sea King, the fair Jewel Princess. And she came across the Sea Path bearing in her arms a young child. And she, weeping, laid down the child at the feet of His Augustness and said, “My lord, I have brought thy son.”
But Prince Fire Fade raised her up and made her welcome, and built for her a palace on the seashore, at the limit of the waves. And the palace was thatched with cormorant’s feathers. So they dwelt there with the August Child.
And the fair Jewel Princess besought her lord, saying, “Sweet husband, look not on me in the dark night, for then I must take my native shape; with those of my land it is ever so. Howbeit, look not on me, lest I should be ashamed and misfortune should follow.” So Prince Fire Fade promised her, and spoke many fair words of assurance.
Nevertheless, there came a night when Prince Fire Fade lay awake, and could get no rest. And, at length, when it was very dark, before the dawn, he arose and struck a light to look upon his bride as she slept. And he beheld a great scalèd dragon, with translucent eyes, which was coiled up at the couch’s foot. And Prince Fire Fade cried out aloud for terror, and dropped the light. Then morning broke very grey upon the sea. And at the same instant the great dragon stirred, and from its coils the Jewel Princess lifted up her lovely head. And the green scales fell away from her like a garment. So she stood, in a white robe, with her child upon her breast. And she hung her head and wept, saying, “O Thine Augustness, my sweet spouse, I had thought to have made the Sea Path a highway between thy land and mine, that we might go and come at pleasure. But now, though I warned thee, thou hast looked upon me in the night. Therefore, my lord, between me and thee it is farewell. I go across the Sea Path, and of this going there is no return. Take thou the August Child.”
She spoke, and departed immediately upon the Sea Path, weeping and covering her face with her hair and looking back to the shore. And she was never more seen upon the Central Land of Reed Plains. Moreover, she shut the gates of the sea and closed the way to her father’s palace. But the young maid, her sister, she sent to be a nurse to her babe, and because, for all that had been, she could not restrain her loving heart, she made a little song, and sent it to her lord by the maid, her sister. And the song said:
“Oh, fair are the red jewels,
And fair is the string on which they are strung …
Even so, fair is my babe.
But brighter far, and more renowned are the white jewels,
The jewels that are like my lord.”
Then the husband answered, in a song which said:
“As for thee, my lady, whom I took to be my bride,
To the island where lights the wild duck—the bird of the offing,
I shall not forget thee till the end of my life.”
Horaizan, the Island of Eternal Youth (the story goes on):
The Wise Man of Japan was Wasobiobe. He was full as wise as the Wise Man of China. He was not old but young. The people honored him and loved him. Often he was happy enough.
It was his pleasure to venture alone in a frail boat out to sea, there to meditate in the wild and watery waste. Once as he did this it chanced that he fell asleep in his boat, and he slept all night long, while his boat drifted out to the eastward. So, when he awoke in the bright light of morning, he found himself beneath the shadow of Fusan, the Wonder Mountain. His boat lay in the waters of a river of Horaizan, and he steered her amongst the flowering iris and the lotus, and sprang on shore.
“The sweetest spot in the world!” he said. “I think I have come to Horaizan the Blest.”
Soon came the youths and maidens of the island, and with them the Wise Man of China, as young and as happy as they.
“Welcome, welcome, dear brother,” they cried, “welcome to the Island of Eternal Youth.”
When they had given him to eat of the delicious fruit of the island, they laid them down upon a bank of flowers to hear sweet music. Afterwards they wandered in the woods and groves. They rode and hunted, or bathed in the warm sea-water. They feasted and enjoyed every delightful pleasure. So the long day lingered, and there was no night, for there was no need of sleep, there was no weariness and no pain.
bright light of morning
cherishes his naked body
birds are singing
The Wise Man of Japan came to the Wise Man of China. He said: “I cannot find my boat.”
“What matter, brother?” said Jofuku. “You want no boat here.”
“Indeed, my brother, I do. I want my boat to take me home. I am sick for home. There’s the truth.”
“Are you not happy in Horaizan?”
“No, for I have a word written upon my heart. The word is Humanity. Because of it I am troubled and have no peace.”
“Strange,” said the Wise Man of China. “Once I too had a word written on my heart. The word was Mutability, but I have forgotten what it means. Do you too forget.”
“Nay, I can never forget,” said the Wise Man of Japan.
He sought out the Crane, who is a great traveler, and besought her, “Take me home to my own land.”
“Alas,” the Crane said, “if I did so you would die. This is the Island of Eternal Youth; do you know you have been here for a hundred years? If you go away you will feel old age and weariness and pain, then you will die.”
“No matter,” said Wasobiobe, “take me home.”
And he said, “I see it. Praise be to the gods.”
She said, “Where shall I carry you?... You have but a little time to live.”
“Good Crane, upon the dear sand of my country, under the spreading pine, there sits a poor fisherman mending his net. Take me to him that I may die in his arms.”
So the Crane laid Wasobiobe at the poor fisherman’s feet. And the fisherman raised him in his arms. And Wasobiobe laid his head against the fisherman’s humble breast.
“I might have lived forever,” he said, “but for the word that is written on my heart.”
“What word?” said the fisherman.
“Humanity is the word,” the Wise Man murmured. “I am grown old—hold me closer. Ah, the pain....” He gave a great cry. Afterwards he smiled. Then his breath left him with a sigh, and he was dead.
“It is the way of all flesh,” said the fisherman.
his spirit protects
The old monster was not slow to perceive the effect which my draught had produced and that I carried him more lightly than usual, so he stretched out his skinny hand and seizing the gourd first tasted its contents cautiously, then drained them to the very last drop. The wine was strong and the gourd capacious, so he also began to sing after a fashion, and soon I had the delight of feeling the iron grip of his goblin legs unclasp, and with one vigorous effort I threw him to the ground, from which he never moved again. I was so rejoiced to have at last got rid of this uncanny old man that I ran leaping and bounding down to the sea shore, where, by the greatest good luck, I met with some mariners who had anchored off the island to enjoy the delicious fruits, and to renew their supply of water.
They heard the story of my escape with amazement, saying, “You fell into the hands of the Old Man of the Sea, and it is a mercy that he did not strangle you as he has everyone else upon whose shoulders he has managed to perch himself. This island is well known as the scene of his evil deeds, and no merchant or sailor who lands upon it cares to stray far away from his comrades.” After we had talked for a while they took me back with them on board their ship, where the captain received me kindly, and we soon set sail, and after several days reached a large and prosperous-looking town where all the houses were built of stone. Here we anchored, and one of the merchants, who had been very friendly to me on the way, took me ashore with him and showed me a lodging set apart for strange merchants. He then provided me with a large sack, and pointed out to me a party of others equipped in like manner.
“Go with them,” said he, “and do as they do, but beware of losing sight of them, for if you strayed your life would be in danger.”
|Monkeys throwing coconuts
With that he supplied me with provisions, and bade me farewell, and I set out with my new companions. I soon learnt that the object of our expedition was to fill our sacks with coconuts, but when at length I saw the trees and noted their immense height and the slippery smoothness of their slender trunks, I did not at all understand how we were to do it. The crowns of the cocoa-palms were all alive with monkeys, big and little, which skipped from one to the other with surprising agility, seeming to be curious about us and disturbed at our appearance, and I was at first surprised when my companions after collecting stones began to throw them at the lively creatures, which seemed to me quite harmless. But very soon I saw the reason of it and joined them heartily, for the monkeys, annoyed and wishing to pay us back in our own coin, began to tear the nuts from the trees and cast them at us with angry and spiteful gestures, so that after very little labor our sacks were filled with the fruit which we could not otherwise have obtained.
like stones of hail
the sweet taste
As soon as we had as many as we could carry we went back to the town, where my friend bought my share and advised me to continue the same occupation until I had earned money enough to carry me to my own country. This I did, and before long had amassed a considerable sum. Just then I heard that there was a trading ship ready to sail, and taking leave of my friend I went on board, carrying with me a goodly store of coconuts; and we sailed first to the islands where pepper grows, then to Comari where the best aloes wood is found, and where men drink no wine by an unalterable law. Here I exchanged my nuts for pepper and good aloes wood, and went a-fishing for pearls with some of the other merchants, and my divers were so lucky that very soon I had an immense number, and those very large and perfect. With all these treasures I came joyfully back to Bagdad, where I disposed of them for large sums of money, of which I did not fail as before to give the tenth part to the poor, and after that I rested from my labors and comforted myself with all the pleasures that my riches could give me.
Having thus ended his story, Sindbad ordered that one hundred sequins should be given to Hindbad, and the guests then withdrew; but after the next day’s feast he began the account of his sixth voyage as follows.
The Fourth Voyage of Sindbad (the story goes on):
“Sire,” I said, “I am more astonished than I can express to you at the strange custom which exists in your dominions of burying the living with the dead. In all my travels I have never before met with so cruel and horrible a law.”
“What would you have, Sindbad?” he replied. “It is the law for everybody. I myself should be buried with the Queen if she were the first to die.”
“But, your Majesty,” said I, “dare I ask if this law applies to foreigners also?”
“Why, yes,” replied the king smiling, in what I could but consider a very heartless manner, “they are no exception to the rule if they have married in the country.”
When I heard this I went home much cast down, and from that time forward my mind was never easy. If only my wife’s little finger ached I fancied she was going to die, and sure enough before very long she fell really ill and in a few days breathed her last. My dismay was great, for it seemed to me that to be buried alive was even a worse fate than to be devoured by cannibals, nevertheless there was no escape. The body of my wife, arrayed in her richest robes and decked with all her jewels, was laid upon the bier. I followed it, and after me came a great procession, headed by the king and all his nobles, and in this order we reached the fatal mountain, which was one of a lofty chain bordering the sea.
Here I made one more frantic effort to excite the pity of the king and those who stood by, hoping to save myself even at this last moment, but it was of no avail. No one spoke to me, they even appeared to hasten over their dreadful task, and I speedily found myself descending into the gloomy pit, with my seven loaves and pitcher of water beside me. Almost before I reached the bottom the stone was rolled into its place above my head, and I was left to my fate. A feeble ray of light shone into the cavern through some chink, and when I had the courage to look about me I could see that I was in a vast vault, bestrewn with bones and bodies of the dead. I even fancied that I heard the expiring sighs of those who, like myself, had come into this dismal place alive. All in vain did I shriek aloud with rage and despair, reproaching myself for the love of gain and adventure which had brought me to such a pass, but at length, growing calmer, I took up my bread and water, and wrapping my face in my mantle I groped my way towards the end of the cavern, where the air was fresher.
Here I lived in darkness and misery until my provisions were exhausted, but just as I was nearly dead from starvation the rock was rolled away overhead and I saw that a bier was being lowered into the cavern, and that the corpse upon it was a man. In a moment my mind was made up, the woman who followed had nothing to expect but a lingering death; I should be doing her a service if I shortened her misery. Therefore when she descended, already insensible from terror, I was ready armed with a huge bone, one blow from which left her dead, and I secured the bread and water which gave me a hope of life. Several times did I have recourse to this desperate expedient, and I know not how long I had been a prisoner when one day I fancied that I heard something near me, which breathed loudly.
Turning to the place from which the sound came I dimly saw a shadowy form which fled at my movement, squeezing itself through a cranny in the wall. I pursued it as fast as I could, and found myself in a narrow crack among the rocks, along which I was just able to force my way. I followed it for what seemed to me many miles, and at last saw before me a glimmer of light which grew clearer every moment until I emerged upon the sea shore with a joy which I cannot describe. When I was sure that I was not dreaming, I realized that it was doubtless some little animal which had found its way into the cavern from the sea, and when disturbed had fled, showing me a means of escape which I could never have discovered for myself. I hastily surveyed my surroundings, and saw that I was safe from all pursuit from the town.
The mountains sloped sheer down to the sea, and there was no road across them. Being assured of this I returned to the cavern, and amassed a rich treasure of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and jewels of all kinds which strewed the ground. These I made up into bales, and stored them into a safe place upon the beach, and then waited hopefully for the passing of a ship. I had looked out for two days, however, before a single sail appeared, so it was with much delight that I at last saw a vessel not very far from the shore, and by waving my arms and uttering loud cries succeeded in attracting the attention of her crew. A boat was sent off to me, and in answer to the questions of the sailors as to how I came to be in such a plight, I replied that I had been shipwrecked two days before, but had managed to scramble ashore with the bales which I pointed out to them. Luckily for me they believed my story, and without even looking at the place where they found me, took up my bundles, and rowed me back to the ship.
"save our souls!"
ships struggling with the storm
the rough sea
Once on board, I soon saw that the captain was too much occupied with the difficulties of navigation to pay much heed to me, though he generously made me welcome, and would not even accept the jewels with which I offered to pay my passage. Our voyage was prosperous, and after visiting many lands, and collecting in each place great store of goodly merchandise, I found myself at last in Bagdad once more with unheard of riches of every description. Again I gave large sums of money to the poor, and enriched all the mosques in the city, after which I gave myself up to my friends and relations, with whom I passed my time in feasting and merriment.
Here Sindbad paused, and all his hearers declared that the adventures of his fourth voyage had pleased them better than anything they had heard before. They then took their leave, followed by Hindbad, who had once more received a hundred sequins, and with the rest had been bidden to return next day for the story of the fifth voyage.
When the time came all were in their places, and when they had eaten and drunk of all that was set before them Sindbad began his tale.
The Third Voyage of Sindbad (the story goes on):
All agreed with me, and we spent the day in building rafts, each capable of carrying three persons. At nightfall we returned to the castle, and very soon in came the giant, and one more of our number was sacrificed. But the time of our vengeance was at hand! As soon as he had finished his horrible repast he lay down to sleep as before, and when we heard him begin to snore I, and nine of the boldest of my comrades, rose softly, and took each a spit, which we made red-hot in the fire, and then at a given signal we plunged it with one accord into the giant’s eye, completely blinding him. Uttering a terrible cry, he sprang to his feet clutching in all directions to try to seize one of us, but we had all fled different ways as soon as the deed was done, and thrown ourselves flat upon the ground in corners where he was not likely to touch us with his feet.
|Sindbad's Third Voyage (The Island of Giants)
After a vain search he fumbled about till he found the door, and fled out of it howling frightfully. As for us, when he was gone we made haste to leave the fatal castle, and, stationing ourselves beside our rafts, we waited to see what would happen. Our idea was that if, when the sun rose, we saw nothing of the giant, and no longer heard his howls, which still came faintly through the darkness, growing more and more distant, we should conclude that he was dead, and that we might safely stay upon the island and need not risk our lives upon the frail rafts. But alas! morning light showed us our enemy approaching us, supported on either hand by two giants nearly as large and fearful as himself, while a crowd of others followed close upon their heels. Hesitating no longer we clambered upon our rafts and rowed with all our might out to sea. The giants, seeing their prey escaping them, seized up huge pieces of rock, and wading into the water hurled them after us with such good aim that all the rafts except the one I was upon were swamped, and their luckless crews drowned, without our being able to do anything to help them. Indeed I and my two companions had all we could do to keep our own raft beyond the reach of the giants, but by dint of hard rowing we at last gained the open sea. Here we were at the mercy of the winds and waves, which tossed us to and fro all that day and night, but the next morning we found ourselves near an island, upon which we gladly landed.
and a snake
There we found delicious fruits, and having satisfied our hunger we presently lay down to rest upon the shore. Suddenly we were aroused by a loud rustling noise, and starting up, saw that it was caused by an immense snake which was gliding towards us over the sand. So swiftly it came that it had seized one of my comrades before he had time to fly, and in spite of his cries and struggles speedily crushed the life out of him in its mighty coils and proceeded to swallow him. By this time my other companion and I were running for our lives to some place where we might hope to be safe from this new horror, and seeing a tall tree we climbed up into it, having first provided ourselves with a store of fruit off the surrounding bushes. When night came I fell asleep, but only to be awakened once more by the terrible snake, which after hissing horribly round the tree at last reared itself up against it, and finding my sleeping comrade who was perched just below me, it swallowed him also, and crawled away leaving me half dead with terror.
When the sun rose I crept down from the tree with hardly a hope of escaping the dreadful fate which had over-taken my comrades; but life is sweet, and I determined to do all I could to save myself. All day long I toiled with frantic haste and collected quantities of dry brushwood, reeds and thorns, which I bound with faggots, and making a circle of them under my tree I piled them firmly one upon another until I had a kind of tent in which I crouched like a mouse in a hole when she sees the cat coming. You may imagine what a fearful night I passed, for the snake returned eager to devour me, and glided round and round my frail shelter seeking an entrance. Every moment I feared that it would succeed in pushing aside some of the faggots, but happily for me they held together, and when it grew light my enemy retired, baffled and hungry, to his den. As for me I was more dead than alive! Shaking with fright and half suffocated by the poisonous breath of the monster, I came out of my tent and crawled down to the sea, feeling that it would be better to plunge from the cliffs and end my life at once than pass such another night of horror. But to my joy and relief I saw a ship sailing by, and by shouting wildly and waving my turban I managed to attract the attention of her crew.
|The giant Snaka (Image found on Pinterest)
A boat was sent to rescue me, and very soon I found myself on board surrounded by a wondering crowd of sailors and merchants eager to know by what chance I found myself in that desolate island. After I had told my story they regaled me with the choicest food the ship afforded, and the captain, seeing that I was in rags, generously bestowed upon me one of his own coats. After sailing about for some time and touching at many ports we came at last to the island of Salahat, where sandal wood grows in great abundance. Here we anchored, and as I stood watching the merchants disembarking their goods and preparing to sell or exchange them, the captain came up to me and said,
“I have here, brother, some merchandise belonging to a passenger of mine who is dead. Will you do me the favour to trade with it, and when I meet with his heirs I shall be able to give them the money, though it will be only just that you shall have a portion for your trouble.”
I consented gladly, for I did not like standing by idle. Whereupon he pointed the bales out to me, and sent for the person whose duty it was to keep a list of the goods that were upon the ship. When this man came he asked in what name the merchandise was to be registered.
“In the name of Sindbad the Sailor,” replied the captain.
At this I was greatly surprised, but looking carefully at him I recognized him to be the captain of the ship upon which I had made my second voyage, though he had altered much since that time. As for him, believing me to be dead it was no wonder that he had not recognized me.
“So, captain,” said I, “the merchant who owned those bales was called Sindbad?”
“Yes,” he replied. “He was so named. He belonged to Bagdad, and joined my ship at Balsora, but by mischance he was left behind upon a desert island where we had landed to fill up our water-casks, and it was not until four hours later that he was missed. By that time the wind had freshened, and it was impossible to put back for him.”
“You suppose him to have perished then?” said I.
“Alas! yes,” he answered.
“Why, captain!” I cried, “look well at me. I am that Sindbad who fell asleep upon the island and awoke to find himself abandoned!”
The captain stared at me in amazement, but was presently convinced that I was indeed speaking the truth, and rejoiced greatly at my escape.
“I am glad to have that piece of carelessness off my conscience at any rate,” said he. “Now take your goods, and the profit I have made for you upon them, and may you prosper in future.”
I took them gratefully, and as we went from one island to another I laid in stores of cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. In one place I saw a tortoise which was twenty cubits long and as many broad, also a fish that was like a cow and had skin so thick that it was used to make shields. Another I saw that was like a camel in shape and color. So by degrees we came back to Balsora, and I returned to Bagdad with so much money that I could not myself count it, besides treasures without end. I gave largely to the poor, and bought much land to add to what I already possessed, and thus ended my third voyage.
When Sindbad had finished his story he gave another hundred sequins to Hindbad, who then departed with the other guests, but next day when they had all reassembled, and the banquet was ended, their host continued his adventures.
I found that each merchant chose a particular nest, and took his chance of what he might find in it. So I begged the one who owned the nest to which I had been carried to take as much as he would of my treasure, but he contented himself with one stone, and that by no means the largest, assuring me that with such a gem his fortune was made, and he need toil no more. I stayed with the merchants several days, and then as they were journeying homewards I gladly accompanied them. Our way lay across high mountains infested with frightful serpents, but we had the good luck to escape them and came at last to the seashore. Thence we sailed to the isle of Rohat where the camphor trees grow to such a size that a hundred men could shelter under one of them with ease. The sap flows from an incision made high up in the tree into a vessel hung there to receive it, and soon hardens into the substance called camphor, but the tree itself withers up and dies when it has been so treated.
In this same island we saw the rhinoceros, an animal which is smaller than the elephant and larger than the buffalo. It has one horn about a cubit long which is solid, but has a furrow from the base to the tip. Upon it is traced in white lines the figure of a man. The rhinoceros fights with the elephant, and transfixing him with his horn carries him off upon his head, but becoming blinded with the blood of his enemy, he falls helpless to the ground, and then comes the roc, and clutches them both up in his talons and takes them to feed his young. This doubtless astonishes you, but if you do not believe my tale go to Rohat and see for yourself. For fear of wearying you I pass over in silence many other wonderful things which we saw in this island. Before we left I exchanged one of my diamonds for much goodly merchandise by which I profited greatly on our homeward way. At last we reached Balsora, whence I hastened to Bagdad, where my first action was to bestow large sums of money upon the poor, after which I settled down to enjoy tranquilly the riches I had gained with so much toil and pain.
Having thus related the adventures of his second voyage, Sindbad again bestowed a hundred sequins upon Hindbad, inviting him to come again on the following day and hear how he fared upon his third voyage. The other guests also departed to their homes, but all returned at the same hour next day, including the porter, whose former life of hard work and poverty had already begun to seem to him like a bad dream. Again, after the feast was over did Sindbad claim the attention of his guests and began the account of his third voyage.
The First Voyage of Sindbad (the story goes on):
“There was on board my ship,” he replied, “a merchant of Bagdad named Sindbad. One day he and several of my other passengers landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but which was really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves. No sooner did it feel upon its back the heat of the fire which had been kindled, than it plunged into the depths of the sea. Several of the people who were upon it perished in the waters, and among others this unlucky Sindbad. This merchandise is his, but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit of his family if I should ever chance to meet with them.”
“Captain,” said I, “I am that Sindbad whom you believe to be dead, and these are my possessions!”
When the captain heard these words he cried out in amazement, “Lackaday! and what is the world coming to? In these days there is not an honest man to be met with. Did I not with my own eyes see Sindbad drown, and now you have the audacity to tell me that you are he! I should have taken you to be a just man, and yet for the sake of obtaining that which does not belong to you, you are ready to invent this horrible falsehood.”
“Have patience, and do me the favor to hear my story,” said I.
“Speak then,” replied the captain, “I’m all attention.”
So I told him of my escape and of my fortunate meeting with the king’s grooms, and how kindly I had been received at the palace. Very soon I began to see that I had made some impression upon him, and after the arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed great joy at once more seeing me alive, he declared that he also recognized me.
Throwing himself upon my neck he exclaimed, “Heaven be praised that you have escaped from so great a danger. As to your goods, I pray you take them, and dispose of them as you please.” I thanked him, and praised his honesty, begging him to accept several bales of merchandise in token of my gratitude, but he would take nothing. Of the choicest of my goods I prepared a present for King Mihrage, who was at first amazed, having known that I had lost my all. However, when I had explained to him how my bales had been miraculously restored to me, he graciously accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable things. I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for sandal and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger, I embarked upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon our homeward voyage that I arrived in Balsora with about one hundred thousand sequins. My family received me with as much joy as I felt upon seeing them once more. I bought land and slaves, and built a great house in which I resolved to live happily, and in the enjoyment of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.
Here Sindbad paused, and commanded the musicians to play again, while the feasting continued until evening. When the time came for the porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing one hundred sequins, saying, “Take this, Hindbad, and go home, but to-morrow come again and you shall hear more of my adventures.”
The porter retired quite overcome by so much generosity, and you may imagine that he was well received at home, where his wife and children thanked their lucky stars that he had found such a benefactor.
The next day Hindbad, dressed in his best, returned to the voyager’s house, and was received with open arms. As soon as all the guests had arrived the banquet began as before, and when they had feasted long and merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:
“My friends, I beg that you will give me your attention while I relate the adventures of my second voyage, which you will find even more astonishing than the first.”
the whale island dives under
back to its habitat
The Story of the Young King of the Black Isles (the story goes on):
The enchantress hurried away and said some words over the lake. The fish then became men, women, and children, and the houses and shops were once more filled. The Sultan’s suite, who had encamped by the lake, were not a little astonished to see themselves in the middle of a large and beautiful town.
As soon as she had disenchanted it the queen went back to the palace.
“Are you quite well now?” she said.
“Come near,” said the Sultan. “Nearer still.”
She obeyed. Then he sprang up, and with one blow of his sword he cut her in two. Then he went and found the prince.
“Rejoice,” he said, “your cruel enemy is dead.”
The prince thanked him again and again.
“And now,” said the Sultan. “I will go back to my capital, which I am glad to find is so near yours.”
“So near mine!” said the King of the Black Isles.
“Do you know it is a whole year’s journey from here? You came here in a few hours because it was enchanted. But I will accompany you on your journey.”
“It will give me much pleasure if you will escort me,” said the Sultan, “and as I have no children, I will make you my heir.”
The Sultan and the prince set out together, the Sultan laden with rich presents from the King of the Black Isles.
The day after he reached his capital the Sultan assembled his court and told them all that had befallen him, and told them how he intended to adopt the young king as his heir.
Then he gave each man presents in proportion to his rank.
As for the fisherman, as he was the first cause of the deliverance of the young prince, the Sultan gave him much money, and made him and his family happy for the rest of their days.
the Young King shed tears again
but now of joy
The Story of the Fisherman (the story goes on):
“I rebelled against the king of the genii. To punish me, he shut me up in this vase of copper, and he put on the leaden cover his seal, which is enchantment enough to prevent my coming out. Then he had the vase thrown into the sea. During the first period of my captivity I vowed that if anyone should free me before a hundred years were passed, I would make him rich even after his death. But that century passed, and no one freed me. In the second century I vowed that I would give all the treasures in the world to my deliverer; but he never came.
“In the third, I promised to make him a king, to be always near him, and to grant him three wishes every day; but that century passed away as the other two had done, and I remained in the same plight. At last I grew angry at being captive for so long, and I vowed that if anyone would release me, I would kill him at once, and would only allow him to choose in what manner he should die. So you see, as you have freed me today, choose in what way you will die.”
The fisherman was very unhappy. “What an unlucky man I am to have freed you! I beg you to spare my life.”
“I have told you,” said the genius, “that it is impossible. Choose quickly; you are wasting time.”
The fisherman began to devise a plot.
“Since I must die,” he said, “before I choose the manner of my death, I conjure you on your honor to tell me if you really were in that vase?”
“Yes, I was,” answered the genius.
“I really cannot believe it,” said the fisherman. “That vase could not hold even your feet and how could your whole body go in? I cannot believe it unless I see you get in.”
Then the genius began to change himself into smoke, which, as before, spread over the sea and the shore, and which, then collecting itself together, began to go back into the vase slowly and evenly till there was nothing left outside. Then a voice came from the vase which said to the fisherman, “Well, unbelieving fisherman, here I am in the vase; do you believe me now?”
The fisherman instead of answering took the lid of lead and shut it down quickly on the vase.
“Now, O genius,” he cried, “ask pardon of me, and choose by what death you will die! But no, it will be better if I throw you into the sea whence I drew you out, and I will build a house on the shore to warn fishermen who come to cast their nets here, against fishing up such a wicked genius as you are, who vows to kill the man who frees you.”
At these words the genius did all he could to get out, but he could not, because of the enchantment of the lid.
Then he tried to get out by cunning.
“If you will take off the cover,” he said, “I will repay you.”
“No,” answered the fisherman, “if I trust myself to you I am afraid you will treat me as a certain Greek king treated the physician Douban. Listen, and I will tell you.”
over the rough sea
fishermen be warned
I appeased her wrath, and in a moment she transported me from the island where we were to the roof of my house, and she disappeared a moment afterwards. I went down, and opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins which I had buried. I went to the place where my shop was, opened it, and received from my fellow-merchants congratulations on my return. When I went home, I saw two black dogs who came to meet me with sorrowful faces. I was much astonished, but the fairy who reappeared said to me,
“Do not be surprised to see these dogs; they are your two brothers. I have condemned them to remain for ten years in these shapes.” Then having told me where I could hear news of her, she vanished.
The ten years are nearly passed, and I am on the road to find her. As in passing I met this merchant and the old man with the hind, I stayed with them.
This is my history, O prince of genii! Do you not think it is a most marvelous one?
“Yes, indeed,” replied the genius, “and I will give up to you the third of the merchant’s punishment.”
Then the third old man made the genius the same request as the other two had done, and the genius promised him the last third of the merchant’s punishment if his story surpassed both the others.
So he told his story to the genius, but I cannot tell you what it was, as I do not know.
But I do know that it was even more marvelous than either of the others, so that the genius was astonished, and said to the third old man, “I will give up to you the third part of the merchant’s punishment. He ought to thank all three of you for having interested yourselves in his favor. But for you, he would be here no longer.”
So saying, he disappeared, to the great joy of the company. The merchant did not fail to thank his friends, and then each went on his way. The merchant returned to his wife and children, and passed the rest of his days happily with them.
“But, sire,” added Scheherazade, “however beautiful are the stories I have just told you, they cannot compare with the story of the Fisherman.”
time goes by
nature changes every day again
The Story of the First Old Man and of the Hind (the story goes on):
Then she took a vessel of water and pronounced over it some words I did not understand; then, on throwing the water over him, he became immediately a young man once more.
“My son, my dear son,” I exclaimed, kissing him in a transport of joy. “This kind maiden has rescued you from a terrible enchantment, and I am sure that out of gratitude you will marry her.”
He consented joyfully, but before they were married, the young girl changed my wife into a hind, and it is she whom you see before you. I wished her to have this form rather than a stranger one, so that we could see her in the family without repugnance.
Since then my son has become a widower and has gone traveling. I am now going in search of him, and not wishing to confide my wife to the care of other people, I am taking her with me. Is this not a most marvelous tale?
“It is indeed,” said the genius, “and because of it I grant to you the third part of the punishment of this merchant.”
When the first old man had finished his story, the second, who was leading the two black dogs, said to the genius, “I am going to tell you what happened to me, and I am sure that you will find my story even more astonishing than the one to which you have just been listening. But when I have related it, will you grant me also the third part of the merchant’s punishment?”
“Yes,” replied the genius, “provided that your story surpasses that of the hind.”
With this agreement the second old man began in this way.
listen to the wind
she whispers stories
from all over the Earth
The Merchant and the Genius (the story goes on):
When the merchant saw that the genius was determined to cut off his head, he said: “One word more, I entreat you. Grant me a little delay; just a short time to go home and bid my wife and children farewell, and to make my will. When I have done this I will come back here, and you shall kill me.”
“But,” said the genius, “if I grant you the delay you ask, I am afraid that you will not come back.”
“I give you my word of honor,” answered the merchant, “that I will come back without fail.”
“How long do you require?” asked the genius.
“I ask you for a year’s grace,” replied the merchant. “I promise you that tomorrow twelvemonth, I shall be waiting under these trees to give myself up to you.”
On this the genius left him near the fountain and disappeared. The merchant, having recovered from his fright, mounted his horse and went on his road.
When he arrived home his wife and children received him with the greatest joy. But instead of embracing them he began to weep so bitterly that they soon guessed that something terrible was the matter.
“Tell us, I pray you,” said his wife, “what has happened.”
“Alas!” answered her husband, “I have only a year to live.”
Then he told them what had passed between him and the genius, and how he had given his word to return at the end of a year to be killed. When they heard this sad news they were in despair, and wept much.
The next day the merchant began to settle his affairs, and first of all to pay his debts. He gave presents to his friends, and large alms to the poor. He set his slaves at liberty, and provided for his wife and children. The year soon passed away, and he was obliged to depart. When he tried to say goodbye he was quite overcome with grief, and with difficulty tore himself away. At length he reached the place where he had first seen the genius, on the very day that he had appointed. He dismounted, and sat down at the edge of the fountain, where he awaited the genius in terrible suspense.
Whilst he was thus waiting an old man leading a hind came towards him. They greeted one another, and then the old man said to him, “May I ask, brother, what brought you to this desert place, where there are so many evil genii about? To see these beautiful trees one would imagine it was inhabited, but it is a dangerous place to stop long in.”
The merchant told the old man why he was obliged to come there. He listened in astonishment.
“This is a most marvelous affair. I should like to be a witness of your interview with the genius.” So saying he sat down by the merchant.
While they were talking another old man came up, followed by two black dogs. He greeted them, and asked what they were doing in this place. The old man who was leading the hind told him the adventure of the merchant and the genius. The second old man had not sooner heard the story than he, too, decided to stay there to see what would happen. He sat down by the others, and was talking, when a third old man arrived. He asked why the merchant who was with them looked so sad. They told him the story, and he also resolved to see what would pass between the genius and the merchant, so waited with the rest.
|Genius (image found on Pinterest)
The merchant and the three old men began to weep and groan.
Then the old man leading the hind threw himself at the monster’s feet and said, “O Prince of the Genii, I beg of you to stay your fury and to listen to me. I am going to tell you my story and that of the hind I have with me, and if you find it more marvelous than that of the merchant whom you are about to kill, I hope that you will do away with a third part of his punishment?”
The genius considered some time, and then he said, “Very well, I agree to this.”
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